How to write a travel policy

Any organization with staff who travel for business will at some point ponder how to write a travel policy. After all, an effective travel policy encourages staff to be wise stewards of company resources, supports employees while on the road, and helps to manage traveler stress. But if your organization has never tackled the task of writing a travel policy, the undertaking can seem overwhelming.

Fox World Travel knows what it takes to engineer a travel policy that is not only read and understood by staff but also encourages compliance while underscoring company values.

Without a policy, travelers are free to do what they will, and that puts a company at risk for not recognizing spend or duty of care. From an organizational perspective, your travel policy should align with company culture, whether it’s people first, employees first or a culture of savings.

A corporate travel policy can mitigate risk

Perhaps your company hasn’t yet developed a corporate travel policy; if that’s the case, you’re not alone. But your organization could be at risk without one.

What’s at risk? In addition to expense management, traveler safety is a huge consideration. The policy should state that travelers need to book travel through a managed travel program, so the company knows where travelers are located in the case of a catastrophic event.

Bottom line —a corporate travel policy protects your organization and your business travelers, making it necessary for any company with staff who travel for work.

Writing a corporate travel policy: getting started

Fox World Travel recommends four initial steps in developing a corporate travel policy.

  1. Solicit advice from key stakeholders
    Companies should take the pulse of department heads, executives and other key travel program stakeholders within the organization to have their voices heard.
  2. Solicit advice from business travelers
    Keeping travelers happy is essential, and a key component of reducing traveler friction is understanding traveler needs. Fox recommends holding focus groups to discuss traveler pain points and the opportunities to alleviate them.
  3. Define desired results
    Before you put pen to paper take out the whiteboard. Fox recommends brainstorming the results the organization hopes to achieve through the travel policy, so you know what success looks like and can drive policy development toward specific objectives.
  4. Remember to keep it brief
    While some advocate for a comprehensive, incredibly detailed travel policy, Fox advocates for developing a policy that focuses on basics. A long, incredibly detailed policy could easily go unread. And if no one reads it, the chances travelers will comply with those guidelines are in peril.

Getting your travel policy down on paper

Now that you’ve gathered input from key stakeholders and developed your overall goals, it’s time to start writing your policy.

Develop a statement of purpose

The first step is to write a statement of purpose based on the results you want to achieve and the direction specified early in the process by key stakeholders. The statement of purpose clearly outlines the vision and defines the goal of the travel policy.

Define guidelines for basic categories

The next step in how to write a travel policy is to build out guidelines within a few basic categories. You may wish to partner with your travel management company (TMC), like Fox World Travel, to align the categories of your travel policy with in-house subject matter experts. In addition, your TMC can offer guidance about missing content in the travel policy that should be included.

For most companies, Fox recommends three primary categories:

  1. Duty of Care
    The safety of your travelers is essential. By defining the duty of care standards, you can ensure that in the event of a travel disruption or emergency, your employees know they are in safe hands.
  2. Expense Management
    Business travel is an essential expense for many companies, but controlling costs is vital to the well-being of the enterprise. Give your travelers the tools and information they need to manage expenses, and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll achieve business goals when they adhere to the travel policy.
  3. Preferred Suppliers
    With a corporate travel policy developed, you have the power to take advantage of reduced rates with preferred suppliers. Spell out the expectations for your business travelers, drive activity toward those preferred suppliers and watch the savings build.

Companies that stick to these categories will cover 99 percent of their needs. By sticking to the basics, you’re more likely to keep your business travelers on the right path. The final aspect to address is the failure to comply with the policy.  What is the company’s stance, either hard or soft, on the “what if” the employee doesn’t follow the rules?

From these three basic categories, you may wish to dive deeper into subcategories specific to modes of transportation, expectations for class of service, guidelines around ancillary fees such as meals on flights and Wi-Fi and standards for advance booking or other components that encourage savings. Some companies find it helpful to include guidelines for how to purchase travel. For example, travelers may be encouraged to use an online booking tool, or call an agent. The bottom line —your policy guidelines should support your overall company culture while achieving the results you defined early in the process.

Getting support from a travel management company

For many companies, the support of a travel management company throughout the policy development process is invaluable. A TMC can support a company in how to write a travel policy, from start to finish. For example, Fox World Travel creates custom solutions for their clients, depending on their needs.

Fox can be as involved as the client needs. That may include providing templates of travel policies that companies can customize to fit their needs and expertise as needed. A TMC can be especially valuable in sharing best practices, industry knowledge and insight into what needs to be included in a corporate travel policy to reflect your organization’s unique corporate culture.

No matter what level of support your organization requires, having a reputable TMC on your side ensures the process goes as smoothly as possible while meeting business needs.

Communicating your travel policy

The policy has been developed. You’ve solicited input from all parties involved, defined expectations in key categories, worked with a TMC to ensure you haven’t missed a detail and you’re ready to launch. Now it’s time to communicate your new policy with staff.

It’s critical to thoroughly communicate the travel policy to stakeholders and having senior leadership in your organization as part of that communication is critical as it identifies their endorsement of the program.

Fox encourages companies that are rolling out a policy to conduct classes and webinars to highlight all the details. With just an email, many things that you want your travelers to understand will be missed. It’s also recommended to house the policy digitally on the company intranet to ensure travelers have access to the most up-to-date version.

How to write a travel policy: an ongoing effort

Once the policy is developed and communicated, you may feel like the process is done. In fact,

it’s just the beginning. The business travel industry is ever-evolving, as are the tools available to travelers and organizations. When it comes to a corporate travel policy, Fox recommends reviewing the policy annually and allowing it to evolve as well.

As you consider how to write a travel policy, these guidelines will help you on your way. Writing a corporate travel policy can be a huge undertaking, but with the support and expertise of a trusted travel management company, you can feel confident your policy is comprehensive, up-to-date and in alignment with best practices.  Your organization will be positioned for success on the road.

If you need help with your corporate travel policy, contact us or call 920.236.8000 or 888.369.8785 for more information.

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